You will prepare and submit a term paper on Mental Health and Disability. Your paper should be a minimum of 3500 words in length.

You will prepare and submit a term paper on Mental Health and Disability. Your paper should be a minimum of 3500 words in length. Social work practice with those who were labeled “insane” in the parlance of the early 20th century (individuals found to meet the legal definition of “insanity” at a “lunacy” court hearing and committed to institutions), arose from a socially progressive reform effort known as the aftercare movement. As the earliest form of “psychiatric” social work practice, aftercare functions became the vehicle for linking the emerging methods and tasks of social work with the existing structures of psychiatric care. That link proved to be an important one for widening the perspective on what constituted adequate care for people with the most serious mental illnesses, as well as for the definition and development of social works professional turf.

The rise of social work in public mental health through aftercare of people with serious mental illnesses illustrates the important reality that strengthening a profession takes place by creating turf, not just defending it (Barnes and Mercer, 2006, 45-8). This perspective thrives in unstable and shifting circumstances when prevailing definitions and boundaries are in flux. It is a useful perspective for the social work profession to confront the upheaval and uncertainty currently experienced in human services (Campbell, 2000, 95).

From the 1906 establishment of an aftercare committee with a single social work-trained aftercare agent at New Yorks Manhattan State Hospital to 1930 when U.S. census data reported social workers employed in state mental hospitals in half of the states in the country, social work became identified with the function of aftercare. The processes that established this identification illustrate critical connections between&nbsp.social activism for an “idea” and the creation of professional “place.” Such connections are important sources of professional legitimization through establishing what sociologist Andrew Abbott (1988) referred to as “jurisdictional claims” or assertions of specific links between a profession and its work (Barnes and Mercer, 2006, 45-8).

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